With Ambrose Quint
#1 Down the Aisle
Your shopping correspondent.
Happy specials, shoppers!
They gotta do something about these trolleys. They just aren’t designed for the male skeletal structure. You see a man pushing a shopping trolley and it looks like he is wrestling with it, like it is some strange beast … holding it at bay lest it turns on him and does some damage. Perhaps a handle more vertical, in keeping with those old “cow-horn” push-bike handlebars where a dozen-long-necks kit-bag would snugly fit, or perhaps like the ones on a trail-bike…that’s; moto-cross bike btw.
I notice this because I see more men shopping by themselves these days … perhaps “on the ground” evidence of a rising divorce rate amongst the older generation … Grey-haired gentlemen shuffling up and down the aisles looking a little bit lost … but then, they ARE getting better at the art of shopping.
I suppose those years after retirement pushing the trolley for “the little lady” has taught them some of the basic rudiments of product purchasing … and I have witnessed several times an older couple come close to blows when the male tries to “muscle-in” on their wife’s ( I have to say; ”wife’s” … the androgynous; “partner” does not feel a snug fit for that generation) selection process. So perhaps the lessons learned from those encounters may now serve them well for their solo ventures into the wilds of the mega-market aisles.
Getting back to the fact that men now seem better at shopping than they used to be … I recall the days of yore when a newly divorced man would roam the supermarket aisles like a lost elk, eyes wide for the possibility of fierce Panthers or the odd Siberian Tiger ready to spring at them from the shelves .. such were the frightening array of products there … and they would traipse up and down, aisle after aisle with the only product rolling and cannonading about the trolley being some recognisable comfort food, like a packet of iced vo-vo’s or that great smoko standby; ‘Arnott’s Monte-Carlo’ biscuits … a modern tragedy.
But now, I witness many men approach the shelves with an air of confidence … pick out a product, turn it around and over several times (their eyes darting this side and that to see if any nearby shoppers show doubt of their integrity) LOOK like they know what they are looking for … then chuck it in the trolley and move on. You can tell the newies to “the game” as THEIR trolley will contain many products purchased from the same aisle … and THAT aisle with the most colours and bling! … hypnotised, as I have observed in an earlier post, by the repetition of shape, colour and light … after all, how many bottles of “Kewpie” mayonnaise does a bloke need with his “Nasi Goreng” spice mix and 3-minute noodles?
And then there the “almost over it” males … I was passed by such a one confidently striding with head high, just today … His trolley exhibited a salubrious variety of carb’s, protein, fruit and veggies suitable to brand him a consumer of a reasonably balanced diet … AND … as one male to another, I have to proclaim he did the gender proud for his ostentatious display of five-high stack of twin-pack pure beef pies! … ”NEVER SAY DIE!” … and what with a short visit to the local pub drive-through for a slab, there goes a man with the weekly shopping damn well done and a display of all the airs and grace of true, manly independence … You can just bet HE had hairs on HIS chest!
Until next time … Happy shopping, customers!
#2 Down the Aisle
Your shopping correspondent.
Happy specials, shoppers!
Those of us of a certain age will recall that statement from the TV show; “The Naked City”, spoken in a gravitas voice, with a narrator intoning the iconic line: “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.” Well, I’d like to report that a similar (although lesser amount I’d warrant) situation can be gleaned by casual conversations down the aisles of your local supermarket.
Was myself engrossed in the selection of a packet of “Carman’s Muesli bars” in our local mega-market there in Nuri’ … (“If you’re not livin’ in Nuri’, you’re livin’ nowhere”), conflicted between selecting the “Super berry muesli bars” and the old favourite: “Dark chocolate and cranberry protein bar” … I had the latter box in my hand and was perusing the nutritional table of contents, looking for ANY possible alcohol content therein, when the shelf-stacking lady, right there next to me saw my intense concentration on the protein bars and thrust a rather large bag of “Hemp Protein Powder” under my nose and chimed:
“Here’s a super protein for you … give you all the ‘get-up-and-go’ you’ll need!”
“Crikey!” I exclaimed, “What I can mistily recall from those people I knew in my young years who had a familiarity with the hemp plant was that the last thing they had was get up and go! … more like; lay-back-and trip-out!”
And she agreed with a hearty laugh … We were then joined by another lady our own age and she backed my statement up … and added that her tale of her old man of those years, who was a truck driver and used certain nefarious substances to sustain him on those long dreary drives.
“Dope!? … ”I exclaimed “Surely that would make him a tad dangerous behind the wheel?” … and I made “whoa … whoa!” motions like I was wildly steering a big rig (I like saying that expression: The BIG RIG … it sounds so macho-male!!: “I … drive a BIG RIG! … there, take that!”) … and I do confess to mentioning that I knew of truck drivers that were less than reliable in control of those enormous machines, breaking open Codral cold tablets (in the bad old days, mind!) to get the little pink pill of (I believe) ephedrine based stuff in the middle.
“Oh yes,” the second lady admitted … ”My old man had me as his “chemist”, grinding the tablets up with a mortar and pestle, and because the ephedrine was heavier than the codeine, I would have to puff away the lighter powder to leave the stuff he used behind …”
We three then reflected humourously on the behaviour of our acquaintances in those halcyon days of endless summers, rolled joints and frothy beers … I had cause to recall one such episode to the ladies on my attraction (now lightly diminished) to the worthy sport of lawn bowls …
“I joined the local lawn bowls club when I lived down the coast way back in my thirties … ” I said. “Well, in those days, it was mostly a conservative refuge for the old and infirm … much like some of us are now! … So I was one of the youngest there then … and this old fellah in our team asked me … out of interest … what attracted such a young, healthy chap as myself to the sport … ’I’ll confess’, I said ‘ I was watching that TV show on lawn bowls: “Jack High” … and I had just smoked a nice fat joint and I watched as one bloke softly sent that little … leeetle brilliantly, shining white ball down that vast open green space … and then I was absolutely mesmerised as I watched another bowler gently roll down that bigger bowl that followed a shallow, parabolic curve that went out sooooo wiiiiiiiide … (and here I did a Marcel Marceau style impersonation whilst on the one spot, of those bowlers stealthily following their bowl down the green in that hunched back possi’ until I came right up to the television set with an impression of one wide-eye and both hands flat against the screen) … and it went on and on and on like it was gonna’ take forever to get there … an’ I thought; Ohh Maannn … that’s in-fin-ity!! … that’s the game for me! … and my very-aged team-mates all moved away from me!”
The ladies were rather amused at my pantomime but then one gave a bit TOO much information of her druggy husband and his flirtations with other ladies while “on the stuff that ruined their marriage”; “Everyone was warning me, but I was the last to realise …”, so that put a rather teeth-gritting saddening kybosh on any possible humorous finish to the converse …
But that’s the way it is down the aisles … there are a million stories down the aisles of the Mega Supermarkets … and this was just one of them … until next time;
This is your shopping correspondent signing off.
#3 Down the Aisle
Your shopping correspondent.
Happy holiday specials, shoppers!
School holidays and the central market is chockers with parents and their kids … sometimes with other parents kids too! … One lady had quite a cluster swarming about her …
“You got the whole class today?” I asked, to which she agreed and replied; “Almost!”
Trouble is, they form a kind of grommet bottleneck at all the free-sample stalls … especially the Smelly Cheese places … their hesitant nibbling on a delightful washed rind or Italian hard-cheese occupying so much time that one is tempted to want to abandon the experience altogether … if it wasn’t a free sample …
One trick I do use to get a place in a crowded situation, now that I have age on my side .. is to say loud enough in a plaintive kind of weak-wail: “Is there any room for a retired old fellow?” … and hey … you should see them scatter on a good day! … and of course, the aged fart is always a solid fall-back position … clears a space no worries …
Zuma’s Café, of course, was the usually crowded place, where one has to reluctantly trip up a fellow pensioner and send them sprawling then walking over the top of them to get to secure a table first … You gotta be cruel to be kind to yourself in those crowded cafes …
And there I was re-packing the trolley outside Goodies and Grains, thereby the pensioner’s seat when this six or seven-year-old with those shoes with the secreted wheels on the bottom came scooting past so fast as to nearly sweeping me around in a spinning circle …
“Watch out old-timer!” he called … the bloody cheek! … old-timer indeed! … I tell you what, some of these young-uns … you just got to get one look at ‘em and you know it’s not gonna end well.
Now, just when I’m getting used to those stressed jeans that the young people wear, with the knees ripped and so on … I saw yesterday where they now are wearing those black tights and they are stressing them too … like horizontal runs in the fabric … I dunno … the only way we could rip our jeans back in the old days was by falling off our motorbikes … I suppose you’d call that; “doing it the hard way.”
And those puffy jackets that seem to be all the rage now … getting around like the top half of the Michelin man doesn’t appeal to me … but I gotta admit, while lacking in style, they do look cosy.
But I did learn a new label while standing outside Standom’s smallgoods and admiring their selection of processed meats … I heard two passing, thin-looking people, that in retrospect could very well have been vegans .. one commenting to the other in what could be called a sneering whisper .. :
“Hrumph! … perving at the flesh there … it’s carnivore porn!”
Well … until next time, shoppers, this is your correspondent signing off.
#4 Down the Aisle
Your shopping correspondent’s report.
Happy specials, shoppers.
From the Central market; Three acts of tragedy.
It is only right and correct that backing up behind the noisy chaos of Zumas Café lunchtime rush, surging like an unstoppable tide against Canute’s Clatter of cutlery was that unmistakable bass kick-off of The Rolling Stones; “Jumping Jack Flash.” I can recognize it anywhere …
“Whatcha!! … I was borrrrrrn in a crossfire hurricane … ”
The perfect beat to cutting and carving my prosciutto bruschetta … ’jumpin’ jack flash is a gas, gas, gas …’
Ah! … Mick and the boys …
I remember back in my wasted youth, a mate in Darwin telling me of his frustration when having an “afternoon delight” with a lady he knew who demanded they always make love with the music of “Barry White and his Love Unlimited Orchestra” playing an endless-loop in the next room … It used to drive him nuts! …
“Hey … can we try the flip-side?” He one day complained to her.
“Oh no, baby,” she dreamily responded. “I don’t like ‘backdooring.“
“The record, the record,” he quickly corrected.
But to no avail … he had to end the relationship when they released; “Barry White; The best of …”
It’s cruel, y’ know … how some of us Baby Boomers have ended up … not a good look, this “growing old disgracefully” … You see them at the market, still getting around in their denims … their ‘Levi’s” … trouble is, while the mind stays young, the body starts to show it’s age … time to move into the trackie-daks and casuals, people … and; lose the white runners … the “pensioners peddlers” … please?? It’s a tragedy, that waist-line: too many years at the front bar when they shoulda’ been on the exercise bike … now, where once a studded belt with that screwdrivered-off-the-Chrysler-V8 buckle was pulled tight around the hipster jeans, it now serves as a kind of hernia belt, keeping the gut from hanging down like a butcher’s apron!
And remember when that skin-tight black Rocker’s “T” shirt had only just enough room in the short sleeve for a soft-pack of ‘Styvo’s” … well now, the front hangs over a protruding beer-gut like Uncle Norm’s verandah … and where once you could only conceal a flick-knife, now you’d have no trouble smuggling half a side of beef past customs at Tullamarine!
And those “Long-shorts” that some of the older blokes have become enamoured with … the side pockets bulging with tape measures and side-cutter pliers, I’d bet … THEY are best suited for young blokes who have the calf muscles to match … Jonah Lomu would look ok … Roger Federer … would look ok … but Clem Smith with legs like a chook’s from Gilles Plains? … Nah!
And that’s just the blokes … The ladies? … I am not that foolish to even go there! .. at least THEY have the excuse and benefit of the doubt of having a few kids to knock their body about … I would not criticize that section of society … no siree bob!
Anyway … got some nice grub, some half-decent grog and the steaks for the barbi tomorra night … the rest, as they say …
Until next time fellow shoppers …
#5 Down the Aisle
Your shopping correspondent.
Happy specials, shoppers!
The Queensland Blue Pumpkin.
Tell you what, there’s nothing in the veggie world more says “Aussie” so much as a big, blowsy ol’ Qld’ Blue Pumpkin. And there was a whole pickers bin full of them just there as we walked into the mega-market in our regional city.
One cannot but get a tad sentimental about those Blues … it always conjures up a memory of my old mum calling to one of us kids playing cowboys and Indians in the back block to: “get me one of those pumpkins down from the chook-house roof .. and hurry up about it!” … and as you look up to see who called, you get “shot” by “Gene Autry” and have to play dead … but then you gotta get that pumpkin or you’ll like as not get the brush on your backside!
Personally, I now prefer the butternut pumpkin … firmer flesh and better taste … to me at least … but there you go … to each his own. Another thing I prefer over the new fads that are coming onto the veggie stalls, is the “regular” coloured traditional vegetables … now wait a minute! … wait a minute … I’m not interested in those “ancient grains” of the “Paleo diet” thingo … and those “heritage veggies” that have those weird colours and shapes … nah!, nah! … can’t come at those … I mean: purple carrots?? … black tomatoes?? … and now I saw on the ABC’s; Catalyst … purple sweet-corn!! … there oughta be a law … who wants to sit down at the table to be greeted with technicolour veggies? … what next … Insect stew!!?? … chunder! … I’d rather die than be reduced to eating insects … it’s WHY we worked at improving agricultural produce … why we left the cave … y’know??
THIS is how it should work … The other day we’re driving home in the old Bedford truck, myself and the good woman … and there’s the horses in the box on the back … it’s been a long day and dusk is on the horizon … it is time to be thinking about dinner …
“What’s for dinner, my love?” I ask … she looks at me through the fog of Radio National’s PM … and thinks for a moment …
Now hang on … stop right there … I know what you’re thinking in this age of “bugger the male and his wanting the women to cook for them!!” … it’s HER preference … The lady loves cooking … she sees the preparation of food as an art form … and I agree with her … she cooks the exotic and the hearty … we sometimes use the old German vault wood-oven for a special treat … And here I’ll say that when we were courting, I would sometimes cook a meal for her … yes, yes … I had a couple of recipes up my sleeve to pull out when wanting to make an impression … and if I may suggest to other courting men out there … a good guide to follow is; “The Complete Middle-East Cookbook” by Tess Mallos … Brilliant! … you gather the ingredients listed and follow the instructions TO THE LETTER … you can’t go wrong … The Batchelor’s pal I called it … and I had a couple on those recipes down pat: “Spanakopita” (Spinach pie) and “Psari Savoro” (Fried fish with rosemary and vinegar) … it always pays to have a couple of standbys up your sleeve to casually drop out to impress the lady:
“Look,” … you say casually. “Why don’t you just drop around my place tonight for dinner … I’ll cook a nice “Psari Savoro” for you” … and you can repeat these two dishes at decent intervals and she’ll be impressed … and there’s the extra bonus of speaking the Greek or whatever title of the dish … suavo! .. and then you take her out to dinner in between and … Hey! … do I have to tell you everything!!?? … jeezus! … sort yourself out …
Anyway … where was I … oh yes … she replies:
“Beef stew with dumplings in a Newcastle brown-ale.” … And she goes back to the iPhone.
Y’see? … THAT’S how a hearty dinner should be … that’s normal: A long winter’s day, a long drive home, I muck the shit out of the stables, settle and feed the horses and un-pack the truck to be driven into the big shed and the lady gets our tea ready … and what’s for dinner: A hearty Beef stew w/dumplings in a Newcastle brown-ale … it doesn’t get any better than that! … and you can forget the exotic coloured veggies!
Looking forward to the next report, shoppers!
Till next time … or rather … till the next series … signing off; your shopping correspondent.
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